Filling the sink with water, Eileen splashed her face and stared at her reflection in the mirror. She had been this way for almost a month now, she felt nauseous and bloated, her whole body ached; her breasts were tender. Rinsing her mouth out she sighed, she would have to see a Healer, it seemed strange to feel ill and so healthy at the same time. Her dark hair had a sheen to it, and her eyes were not dimmed, so it could not be much at all. She wondered if she should have asked Madame Pomfrey to examine her before she left Hogwarts. But that was over now, she had left school two weeks ago.
“Eileen!” Came her mothers shrill voice from the other side of the doorway. “Merlins beard girl, you’ve been in there for ages! The Minister is looking for you. Come along!” The bathroom door opened and Eileen suppressed a sigh, fighting down the urge to rush back and empty herself again. Her mother sighed and flustered with Eileens hair. “Merlins beard girl, what have you been doing? You’re not coming down with something are you? You’re hardly likely to be selected to represent Great Britain if you’re unwell.”
“I’m fine mum, it’s just nerves.” Eileen replied quietly, feeling her face heat.
Her mother sniffed, tugging at the long braid hanging down her back. “Nerves! Yes, well I suppose you do have more than just the competition on your mind. Now come along Apteryxes is growing anxious. This is a good match Eileen, although what he sees in you.” Mrs Prince sniffed again. “Now come along, you must not forget your place.”
Eileen followed her mother as she led the way towards a grand room, the walls lined with a cream coloured wallpaper three quarters of the way to the high raised ceiling where it changed to a crimson red almost the colour of blood and studded with gold. The Black family crest was emblazoned in gold on one wall. The room was full of waiting wizards and witches. Eileen easily recognised the delegation from the Ministry, Mr Bartie Crouch was a junior politician, but quickly rising. She had heard her mother recommend him as a member of her party many times. A tall thin man with a long horse like face, he was rifling through a portfolio, arranging a sheaf of thin parchment.
Crouch coughed slightly, pushing his spectacles up his long thin nose and gazed around the room. Mr Rogerson Eileen saw was standing by with his camera ready to take photographs for the Daily Prophet. Crouch saw him also and gave him a nod.
“Ladies and gentlemen.” Crouch read from the papers in front of him, lifting eyes only momentarily to ensure that he had the attention of everyone gathered in the room. A soft smirk crossed his face and he glanced over at the table near the front of the room where Eileen was seated along side her parents and Apertyxes.
“I have here, the results of the vote of the Department of Foreign Affairs in regard to the election of a representative for the upcoming International Potions Tournament, which this year has been proudly supported by Gringotts Bank, Partridges Potions, and of course the Ministry for Magic in Great Britain. I don’t think I need to remind you all of the significance of this event which is held every four years. Since its inception in 1796, the Ministry has sent a representative of our great island nation. This year, there were five entrants. Mrs Anatasia Hunt from Lincolnshire, Mr Barry Dwight from Hampshire, Mr David Johnson from Liecestershire, who has applied for the third year running, Mr Ashton Crabtree from Cornwall, and Miss Eileen Prince from London.”
Crouch looked up again, his thin moustache bristling as he rubbed it thoughtfully, he turned the parchment over, reading his notes on the other side and cleared his throat once more. “While all applicants were able to prove their strengths in potion making to a level beyond the minimum requirements for this tournament, one entrant appeared vastly superior to the others. In spite of the vast age difference –“
Eileen felt her stomach lurch and she gripped it firmly. She could not be sick now, not now when the announcement was about to come. Any illness would be seen as her being unfit to go. Her father patted her hand warmly, a soft smile creasing his face. Eileen smiled at him warmly and turned back to listen to the rest of Crouch’s speech.
“Our chosen candidate was Dux of their class at Hogwarts school of Wizardry and Witchcraft, graduating with Honours in Herbology and Potions just two weeks ago, winner of the Archibald trophy in ’53 at the age of just fifteen, Miss Prince is an obvious choice-“
Eileen waited for the “however”, biting her bottom lip in suspense. She caught her mothers eye, a slight twinkle shone in her dark eyes. Eileen was suddenly aware of all eyes on her as the clapping started. Apteryxes clapping hardest of all, his cool blue-grey eyes smiling in satisfaction.
“Congratulations Eileen.” Her father murmured softly, leaning forwards to kiss her cheek.
Flushing, Eileen rose to her feet, feeling every eye on her, felt her ears pricking for the whispers. Crouch held out a small black bound envelope and shook her hand.
“Congratulations Miss Prince, I’m sure we will all be very proud of you.” Crouch said warmly.
“Thank you Minister.” Eileen croaked and turned to face the crowd. Merlins beard … was she expected to make a speech? Wavering slightly, she caught sight of her father’s smile and a brief nod. She wiped her hands on her dress, feeling slightly faint. “I … I wish to thank the Ministry for this opportunity.” She began softly. “And the sponsors of this tournament, Gringotts bank, Partridges Potions, Madame Tonkins and everyone else who is involved. I would also like to thank my family … my parents and of course my fiancé.”
She smiled in Apteryxes direction, but his head was turned as Davainea was whispering something in his ear. Apteryxes nodded, whispered something back and smiled at her. His smile made her legs melt, he was so handsome. “Thank you.” Eileen said softly once again and walked back to the table, the polite clapping made her face flush, she knew it would make her look spotty.
Her parents were on their feet, her father kissing her cheek warmly. “Well done my dear.” He smiled at her fondly. Mrs Prince nodded her head, but pulled away, accepting the well wishes of those around her.